monads-tf- Monad classes, using type families

Portabilitynon-portable (type families)
Safe HaskellSafe-Inferred




Computation type:
Computations which may fail or throw exceptions.
Binding strategy:
Failure records information about the cause/location of the failure. Failure values bypass the bound function, other values are used as inputs to the bound function.
Useful for:
Building computations from sequences of functions that may fail or using exception handling to structure error handling.
Zero and plus:
Zero is represented by an empty error and the plus operation executes its second argument if the first fails.
Example type:
Either String a

The Error monad (also called the Exception monad).


Monads with error handling

class Monad m => MonadError m whereSource

The strategy of combining computations that can throw exceptions by bypassing bound functions from the point an exception is thrown to the point that it is handled.

Is parameterized over the type of error information and the monad type constructor. It is common to use Either String as the monad type constructor for an error monad in which error descriptions take the form of strings. In that case and many other common cases the resulting monad is already defined as an instance of the MonadError class. You can also define your own error type and/or use a monad type constructor other than Either String or Either IOError. In these cases you will have to explicitly define instances of the Error and/or MonadError classes.

Associated Types

type ErrorType m Source


throwError :: ErrorType m -> m aSource

Is used within a monadic computation to begin exception processing.

catchError :: m a -> (ErrorType m -> m a) -> m aSource

A handler function to handle previous errors and return to normal execution. A common idiom is:

 do { action1; action2; action3 } `catchError` handler

where the action functions can call throwError. Note that handler and the do-block must have the same return type.

class Error a

An exception to be thrown.

Minimal complete definition: noMsg or strMsg.


Error IOException 
ErrorList a => Error [a]

A string can be thrown as an error.

The ErrorT monad transformer

newtype ErrorT e m a

The error monad transformer. It can be used to add error handling to other monads.

The ErrorT Monad structure is parameterized over two things:

  • e - The error type.
  • m - The inner monad.

The return function yields a successful computation, while >>= sequences two subcomputations, failing on the first error.




runErrorT :: m (Either e a)


Error e => MonadTrans (ErrorT e) 
(Monad m, Error e) => Monad (ErrorT e m) 
Functor m => Functor (ErrorT e m) 
(MonadFix m, Error e) => MonadFix (ErrorT e m) 
(Monad m, Error e) => MonadPlus (ErrorT e m) 
(Functor m, Monad m) => Applicative (ErrorT e m) 
Foldable f => Foldable (ErrorT e f) 
Traversable f => Traversable (ErrorT e f) 
(Functor m, Monad m, Error e) => Alternative (ErrorT e m) 
(Error e, MonadIO m) => MonadIO (ErrorT e m) 
(Error e, MonadCont m) => MonadCont (ErrorT e m) 
(Monad m, Error e) => MonadError (ErrorT e m) 
(Error e, MonadReader m) => MonadReader (ErrorT e m) 
(Error e, MonadState m) => MonadState (ErrorT e m) 
(Error e, MonadWriter m) => MonadWriter (ErrorT e m) 
(Error e, MonadRWS m) => MonadRWS (ErrorT e m) 

mapErrorT :: (m (Either e a) -> n (Either e' b)) -> ErrorT e m a -> ErrorT e' n b

Map the unwrapped computation using the given function.

Example 1: Custom Error Data Type

Here is an example that demonstrates the use of a custom Error data type with the throwError and catchError exception mechanism from MonadError. The example throws an exception if the user enters an empty string or a string longer than 5 characters. Otherwise it prints length of the string.

-- This is the type to represent length calculation error.
data LengthError = EmptyString  -- Entered string was empty.
          | StringTooLong Int   -- A string is longer than 5 characters.
                                -- Records a length of the string.
          | OtherError String   -- Other error, stores the problem description.

-- We make LengthError an instance of the Error class
-- to be able to throw it as an exception.
instance Error LengthError where
  noMsg    = OtherError "A String Error!"
  strMsg s = OtherError s

-- Converts LengthError to a readable message.
instance Show LengthError where
  show EmptyString = "The string was empty!"
  show (StringTooLong len) =
      "The length of the string (" ++ (show len) ++ ") is bigger than 5!"
  show (OtherError msg) = msg

-- For our monad type constructor, we use Either LengthError
-- which represents failure using Left LengthError
-- or a successful result of type a using Right a.
type LengthMonad = Either LengthError

main = do
  putStrLn "Please enter a string:"
  s <- getLine
  reportResult (calculateLength s)

-- Wraps length calculation to catch the errors.
-- Returns either length of the string or an error.
calculateLength :: String -> LengthMonad Int
calculateLength s = (calculateLengthOrFail s) `catchError` Left

-- Attempts to calculate length and throws an error if the provided string is
-- empty or longer than 5 characters.
-- The processing is done in Either monad.
calculateLengthOrFail :: String -> LengthMonad Int
calculateLengthOrFail [] = throwError EmptyString
calculateLengthOrFail s | len > 5 = throwError (StringTooLong len)
                        | otherwise = return len
  where len = length s

-- Prints result of the string length calculation.
reportResult :: LengthMonad Int -> IO ()
reportResult (Right len) = putStrLn ("The length of the string is " ++ (show len))
reportResult (Left e) = putStrLn ("Length calculation failed with error: " ++ (show e))

Example 2: Using ErrorT Monad Transformer

ErrorT monad transformer can be used to add error handling to another monad. Here is an example how to combine it with an IO monad:

import Control.Monad.Error

-- An IO monad which can return String failure.
-- It is convenient to define the monad type of the combined monad,
-- especially if we combine more monad transformers.
type LengthMonad = ErrorT String IO

main = do
  -- runErrorT removes the ErrorT wrapper
  r <- runErrorT calculateLength
  reportResult r

-- Asks user for a non-empty string and returns its length.
-- Throws an error if user enters an empty string.
calculateLength :: LengthMonad Int
calculateLength = do
  -- all the IO operations have to be lifted to the IO monad in the monad stack
  liftIO $ putStrLn "Please enter a non-empty string: "
  s <- liftIO getLine
  if null s
    then throwError "The string was empty!"
    else return $ length s

-- Prints result of the string length calculation.
reportResult :: Either String Int -> IO ()
reportResult (Right len) = putStrLn ("The length of the string is " ++ (show len))
reportResult (Left e) = putStrLn ("Length calculation failed with error: " ++ (show e))